POSTED ON NOVEMBER 4, 2009:
All Dolled Up
Young girls strut dolls and outfits for annual American Girl Fashion Show
I have been lambasted recently from a friend who saw an embarrassing junior high photo of me. At least I can say that at age 13, I acted like a 13-year old. And I dressed like a 13-year old girl in jeans, sneakers and horrible graphic T-shirts that were popular in the mid 1990s--just like a kid.
Now, it seems girls act and dress like a 13-year-old at age 7. That's why it's so refreshing to have a local event that lets elementary school-aged girls act and dress like kids. And this one also happens to give back to the community.
This is the sixth year the Junior League of Tulsa has hosted the American Girl Fashion Show. Each year, the event features local, school-aged girls walking down the runway with an American Girl doll. Each girl's outfit is replicated to match the outfit her doll wears. Katherine Haskell, Strategic Marketing Chair for the Junior League of Tulsa, said the event gives the young girls great values and also helps them learn.
American Girl's output now includes magazines and self help books and movies, but the company is best known for its historical books and its dolls. Beginning in 1986, the company began creating a series of books, each based on a character from a certain time period in American history. Both the girls of the books and nearly every detail from their stories were then made into dolls and accessories--from Kaya "an adventurous Nez Perce girl growing up in 1764" to Addy "a courageous girl determined to be free in 1864" to Molly "a child of World War II."
The company eventually expanded the doll collection outside of the historical characters to include a doll that would appeal to any and every girl. And, apparently, it's appealed to many young girls, as 16 million dolls have been sold since 1986.
Nationally, the Junior League has put on many American Girl Fashion Shows. Rachael Hunsucker, president of the Junior League said, "The American Girl doll series reflects much of America's past and present culture and girls' developing personalities. This show helps teach history and individual expression to viewers while engendering self-confidence and poise in the models and narrators."
Members of the Junior League of Tulsa speak eloquently when discussing how the concepts behind American Girl translate into an ideal fundraiser for the organization. Sarah Dougherty, the Junior League of Tulsa's Community Council Vice President said, "We feel American Girl is the perfect fit for us as a fundraiser because we all want to empower girls to become the community leaders of tomorrow."
So how does the event do that and raise funds for the Junior League of Tulsa's community projects? Well, the event kicks off Friday, Nov. 6 at the Junior League of Tulsa's headquarters. The entire weekend's events take place at the facilities at 3633 S. Yale.
The opening night Patron Party features the first fashion show of the weekend. Participants of the dinner will also have a three-course dinner, drinks and receive a goody bag. The night features a silent auction, where bidders can try for American Girl items like the new historical doll, Rebecca, a girl growing up in 1914, or try for the Kirsten doll, one of the first dolls launched in 1986 that the company is discontinuing. The night also boasts of an unannounced special guest who will be in attendance.
During the next two days of events, there will be another five fashion shows on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 10am, 1pm and 4pm and then on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 1pm and 4pm. Each fashion show is also a tea party for the guests. A local broadcaster emcees every show, and the list includes personalities such as Karen Larsen, Julie Chin, Erin Christy, Cindy Morrison, Kristin Dickerson and Latoya Silmon.
The weekend also features a total of 150 elementary school-aged girls walking the runway. Local junior high and high school girls narrate the runway. These older girls also provide information about the dolls' character, personality and her life in her historical context. In this way, Haskell said, the show not only showcases the dolls, but is informative both culturally and historically.
For the girls modeling and narrating, the event provides an opportunity to learn real skills. Haskell said the models are taught poise, self-control and confidence, while the narrators hone their public speaking skills. And the fashion--both the historical and the contemporary looks--are appropriate, not the looks of girls looking too old too soon.
Haskell said the event brings in more than just friends and family members of the young ladies participating in either the narration or modeling. She said the family friendly event is popular amongst people who are interested in the dolls and want to pick up more accessories. Since the dolls and accessories are not available in any store locally, people who attend the fashion show get an option to see the dolls up close and in person.
Although people who attend won't be able to purchase the dolls themselves, American Girl doll accessories are for sale. The event features souvenir T-shirts available in sizes for girls and their dolls. Haskell said the shirts were so popular during the rehearsals for the models, they sold out and have already been re-ordered.
There will also be a raffle; and those who purchase a raffle ticket could potentially win the chance to model. Three girls at each show will be selected from the raffle and get to participate in the fashion show. Even if she doesn't become a model, each young girl leaves the event with an American Girl goody bag.
Haskell said one of the fun aspects of this year's event is the Doll Salon. Girls who bring their American Girl dolls can receive a brand new look by one of Iidentity Salon's (3749 S. Peoria) professional stylists. While this doll pampering is available in American Girl stores, Haskell said this is the first time this kind of service has been provided in Tulsa.
While the Doll Salon service is not complimentary, proceeds, like those from the raffle and the rest of the weekend's events, go toward the Junior League of Tulsa, which in turn filters those funds back into the community through their projects.
The Junior League of Tulsa is "a nonprofit organization committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers." A few of the Junior League of Tulsa's projects who will benefit from the American Girl Fashion Show include the Children's Hospital at St. Francis Family Resource Center, the Laura Dester Children's Shelter, Resonance Women's Center and Global Gardens.
Tickets for Friday night's Patron Party are $50. Tickets to any of the fashion shows are $35 for the Premium seating and $30 for other seating. Haskell said the Premium seating is in conjunction to the catwalk as the photographers are at a fashion show in Bryant Park, but she said that all the seats offer a great view of the show.
Tickets can be purchased through the Junior League of Tulsa Web site HYPERLINK "http://www.jltulsa.org"; www.jltulsa.org (where you can also learn more about the organization) or you can call 663-6100. Haskell said that all but one show sold out in advance at last year's American Girl Fashion Show, so tickets might not be available at the door.
The American Girl Fashion Show promises to be a fun experience for a young girl or a woman young at heart.
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